(HealthDay News) — A hard hit to the chest during a football game resulted in three days of an irregular heart rhythm for a 16-year-old player, researchers report in a new case study.

The authors of the paper, published online December 8 in Pediatrics, describe the first known report of atrial fibrillation in a teenager following blunt force trauma to the chest. The boy was apparently healthy and had no medical history of a heart condition.

The patient reported to the emergency room because of chest pain and heart palpitations. An electrocardiogram identified atrial fibrillation with irregular ventricular response at an average rate of 70–80 beats per minute. The patient was admitted to the hospital for observation. Three days later, his heart rate returned to normal on its own, and his heart remained healthy and normal one year later.

Senior study author Andras Bratincsak, MD, PhD, a pediatric cardiologist, said it’s worth being aware that young athletes’ hearts should be checked after a chest trauma. “It is obviously underreported, but we do not know the true incidence,” Bratincsak, a professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, told HealthDay. He said it could be similar to commotio cordis, which results from ventricular fibrillation following a hard hit to the chest.

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